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Is my friend an alcoholic?

Discussion in 'Alcohol' started by sarahm, Sep 12, 2014.

  1. sarahm

    sarahm Member

    Every time we hang out, which is only about once a month for dinner, she is drinking, not just one but a few. I try not to judge her but we are good friends and I am concerned that we can't just hang out and talk without having her get drunk. Am I being a buzzkill? Do I need to lighten up and let her just be herself? Or should I say anything at all?
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  2. Joseph

    Joseph Community Organizer Community Listener

    Hi sarahm. First, thank you for sharing your story with us here in the discussion forums. You're clearly a compassionate person who cares enough for her friend to reach out for feedback, and that is admirable. It also shows that you value your relationship and time with your friend enough to want to continue hanging out. I can relate very much to your situation and also have a friend who I see only about once a month under the same circumstances. There's a fine line between being a buzzkill and helping someone who might not realize they have a problem. Does your friend drive home after dinner? If she does, perhaps you could approach the conversation from a place of being concerned for her safety, rather than from a place of judgement. Also, has this been a consistent behavior over time or have you always known your friend to be a drinker?
    sarahm likes this.
  3. Carrie

    Carrie Member

    I have a very close close friend who I've known for over 20 years, and I have the same concerns as you. I don't have any professional advice to give, but it does sound like you're a supportive friend, and I'm sure your support means more than you realize. I think it's fair to have an honest conversation with her if you feel close with her.
    Joseph and sarahm like this.
  4. sarahm

    sarahm Member

    Thank you guys. I appreciate your support and ideas. It's nice to know I'm not the only one. I will think of ways I can bring it up next time we get together. And yes, she does drive after a few drinks so I like the idea of bringing it up in context of her safety. Thank you for your support!
    Joseph likes this.
  5. FreeSpirit

    FreeSpirit Member

    Friends can be tricky. If you meddle too much in their business they might end up not being your friend. But if you allow them to go down a negative path then you're not being a good friend. Real friends will take the time to find this balance without sacrificing the well being of either themselves or the other person. Real friends will show that they care without trying to control the person. Also it's important not to embarrass someone when they are drinking. If you only see each other once a month I'm curious why it matters so much that she drinks at dinner. Is it because you are concerned for her health and well being or is it that you are just annoyed that she is drinking in front of you. If it's the first then do you have any evidence that she drinks like that all the time? And if it's the second then maybe you need to reassess why you are hanging out with this person. If you're only hanging out once a month and you're annoyed during that short window of time then what's the incentive to keep meeting every month?
    sarahm likes this.
  6. sarahm

    sarahm Member

    Thanks FreeSpirit. This is a good question. We've known each other for more than ten years and we were roommates when I was in college. I can't say that she was really there for me during my recovery and your questions made me think that maybe I am a bit resentful. Even though we both still make the effort to stay in touch...actually she does more than me come to think of's like I have been expecting her to act different just because I have changed. Maybe I am even jealous a little that she gets to drink and I don't with dinner. With that said I do know also that she has always had patterns of alcohol abuse (in my opinion) and I guess a part of me just wants to find some of the benefits of sobriety that I've found. Either way the ideas from everyone's responses has given me a new way of looking at the situation. I will be thinking about this next time I meet with my friend.
    Carrie likes this.
  7. Jen S.

    Jen S. Guest

    Hi Sarah :)
    I think it's normal to be a little bit annoyed by people who are capable of enjoying a few drinks responsibly. I mean...isn't that what most of us wish we could do? Alcohol doesn't bother me. The fact that I can't handle it does. I was irritated in a lot of social situations early in my recovery. As it turned out - my problem wasn't with "norms" (non-alcoholics). I needed to work a little bit more on accepting the fact that I'm different.
    "You mean I'll never EVER be able to handle alcohol?" ---> Yeah Jen, but try to just take it a day at a time.
    "I can't even toast at weddings?" --> Just grab the sparkling grape juice and be grateful you're in recovery.
    Don't get me wrong - I'm still uncomfortable around people who are totally out-of-their-mind intoxicated, but sitting across from a friend who has a few glasses of wine at dinner is no longer an issue for me.

    That (above) might not be the reason red flags are popping up in your head, though. What if your friend really does have a drinking problem? The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence separates alcohol abuse (possibly the category your friend is in if she has a few drinks at dinner and drives home slightly impaired/over the legal limit) and alcoholism symptoms in ways that may help you decide. Check it out here.
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  8. sarahm

    sarahm Member

    Thanks for this. I'm not really sure anymore if she does, because we only see each other every once in a while. I'll let you know what happens next month. :)
    Jen S. likes this.
  9. maryannballeras

    maryannballeras Senior Contributor

    I hope she doesn't drink a lot anymore. I had this problem before but I was able to overcome it thanks to friends who kept me busy doing other things. I'm glad I didn't have to take medicines or whatever. You really sound like a good friend so I know that you can help her as well by staying by her side.
  10. Allen24

    Allen24 Active Contributor

    It isn't a lot to go on if you only see her once a month or so. Maybe she takes the time to have a few drinks when out socially with friends and doesn't drink at all otherwise. You never know. Having a couple of drinks at dinner (even when the other guest isn't) doesn't seem like a big warning sign to me.

    If you feel there is a problem, maybe try asking casually how much she usually drinks. Tell her a story about you drinking yourself (if you do) as a conversation starter.
  11. I think you should try to see if your friend follows this through with her everyday life, what i mean by this is that the times when you meet up with her are most likely social right? I so then it not out of the ordinary for some people to drink quite a bit, just a few times a month in order to 'wind down' (not that i am condoning this) However if she is drinking a lot on a daily basis (which you will need to confirm by spending more time with her if possible) then you might want to look into sitting her down and talking about it and possibly getting her help. However because your friend drinks a bit on social occasions doesn't prove she is an alcoholic. And as mentioned before approach this matter with a concerned feel rather than a judgemental feel or else they might feel personally attacked and block you out. Hope it all goes well, Regards

  12. Charli

    Charli Community Champion

    I think it's best to gauge it further first before jumping to conclusions, it might just be a phase, but then again you might be right and it could be a cause for concern. I personally would recommend just checking out her actions that may or may not be getting affected by her drinking. If she is starting to drive drunk or is starting to spend all of her money on drinks, then it might be a good time to intervene.
  13. mimsee

    mimsee Active Contributor

    Good on you for being concerned enough for your friend to ask for advice. I think there should always be an intervention when a loved one makes the decision to drive after drinking, not just for their safety but for the safety of everyone else on the road. Make sure she knows that you care about her safety when you speak to her about all of it :)
  14. GenevB

    GenevB Community Champion

    First, you need to make the difference between someone who is trying to impress you and someone who really has a need. For instance, a few months back, I was a smoker and I'd smoke every time I hanged up with my friends but I'd also smoke when I was alone. It was a need. First thing you want to do is check if she drinks in the presence of other friends or is it just you, then you should find out if she drinks when she is alone in order to determine if she needs to drink or does it only as a hobby / or to impress you. Hope this will help you.
  15. sarahxalex

    sarahxalex Member

    Good evening Sarahm,
    You're a very good friend for being concerned. If you only see her every once in awhile I do not think she has a problem honestly. Maybe you need some more background evidence, for example, hanging out with her on a daily basis or even giving out a quick call. Now if you keep an eye on her and see that she is still drinking constantly then yes you need to bring it up and get her some help or even help her yourself. Every time she wants a drink you guys should go workout or grab a cup of coffee. Slowly she will stop wanting to drink as much and have a new daily routine because of you.

    Also I think it is very normal for a friend to socially drink every time a friend comes over. It doesn't mean you're a buzzkill, it simply means she gets nervous, has anxiety, or just feels socially awkward and drinks so she can loosen up a bit.
  16. DancingLady

    DancingLady Community Champion

    Whether or not she is an alcoholic, her actions in this situation are irresponsible an putting her own life and others on road in danger. You really need to say something, before she has had too many to drive. Just mention that she has her car here and is planning to drive home. You can always gently remind her that a person's alcohol tolerance does not affect whether they get a DUI or not if they are over the limit. Even if she only drinks like this occasionally when she goes out, she still needs to be reminded that safety is the most important thing.
  17. notodrugs

    notodrugs Community Listener Community Listener

    I used to drink when I was younger but only on occasions and that was about twice a month whenever we had nights out or bar hopping sessions. I had hard drinks more than one shot and I never got drunk. But it was just a phase and nothing else I supposed. I thought then that I was just having an enjoyable time with my friends. I've stopped long time back. Right now, I feel that if I drink, I will easily get drunk so I don't try anymore. Anyway, in the case of your friend, you have to look at other factors on her drinking habits. Pls check out this website Maybe it will help. Good luck!
  18. wowtgp

    wowtgp Member

    I drink some whenever I hang out with friends. It helps me with overcoming my shyness and unwillingness to interact with people, but I never get an urge to drink or anything. So I can;t say for sure if your friend is an alcoholic as it's not sure if she drinks just because she loves to hang out with you or because she can't resist it.
  19. SamClemensMT

    SamClemensMT Member

    You say you guys hang out once a month. Getting smashed once a month doesn't make you an alcoholic. How is she the rest of the time. When you talk on the phone for instance. An alcoholic will be drunk, or unavailable nearly any time you call them. Test this out before you start worrying about her. Okay?
  20. WAVWirmer

    WAVWirmer Member

    Alcoholism is a tricky thing when it comes to some people. Some can drink non stop and not fall into the category of alcoholic they could just be very social or heavy drinkers. That dosnt automatically make them an alcoholic. As I understand it an Alcoholic is someone who constantly needs the comfort of alcohol to ease there pain. Its an addiction where they need to constantly be drinking and or drunk to make it past the day. If your friend does this each and every day then you should try to talk with her about it and offer to get her some help. If she just drink when you guys hang out or once in a while it may not be such a big problem. Although it isnt very healty to get wasted or black out drunk. if its even that bad.